Monday, 21 May 2007

How much music is out there?

I tried a quick Google search but couldn’t find what I wanted. I’d like some estimates on how many distinct music tracks are currently on peoples computers worldwide, and how many will be out there in the near future. If you have any pointers to any related estimates, please let me know.

I remember when I started working on MIR research in 2001 I had a collection of 359 (digitized) tracks. I thought that was plenty. Several of the simple computations I ran back then took longer than a night on my computer. Two years later I was dealing with 3961 tracks and thought that was a “large scale” evaluation. When I conducted some of the experiments for my thesis (2005/2006) I thought 20,000 tracks was large scale. Today my colleagues and I are talking about what to do with a few million tracks.

Looking back it seems that roughly every 2 years the number of tracks increased by one order of magnitude. With a bit of extrapolation this leads to more than a hundred million tracks in 4 years. That might sound like a lot if you think of music in terms of what is played on radio stations. But if you think of it in terms of all the music that is created every day, it seems odd that only such a tiny fraction is digitally available.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Elias - great question ... I've been thinking about this a lot as well. I don't have any figures to back this up ... but I've been working under the assumption that in the near future, there will be a billion distinct tracks on line with a million new tracks arriving every week. This includes the entire back catalog (100 years of recorded music, music released by all of the major labels. all of the indie labels, every myspace band, every kid with a laptop and garageband, every recording of every performance of every jam band, all will be online. That's a whole lot of music.